Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Philadelphia Phillies

Philadelphia finished with an 88-74 record and missed out on the playoffs yet again despite a lot of investment in recent years. Now a new GM has been brought in to get the team where they want to go.


The rotation has the potential to be solid and deep but it also has the potential to be a disaster and form seems to point towards the latter.

Jon Lieber will again be expected to be the ace but after a strong start he struggled greatly last year. Behind him the likes of Cory Lidle, Brett Myers and Randy Wolf have shown they can be solid performers and will need to have good seasons if Phillie are going to get anywhere. More importantly the enigmatic Gavin Floyd needs to step up and be counted and show that his billing as one of the top pitching prospects in baseball is merited.

The bullpen may have lost Billy Wagner but Tom Gordon should be an able replacement. There is some worry that he may have some fatigue in his shoulder after a couple of heavy years with the Yankees but he has the ability and definitely has the temperament.

Gordon will be set up by the lefty-righty combination of Arthur Rhodes and Ryan Madson and between the three of them many a game will be shortened and with the added depth provided by Rheal Cormier and Julio Santana Phillie should be a tough team to come back against.


Aaron Rowand’s addition to the team greatly improves the outfield and he should have no problem bridging the gap between Pat Burrell, who runs out every play but lacks the athleticism to be effective, and Bobby Abreu whose mobility is in decline as his body thickens.

The infield is anchored by the double play combo of the rangy and athletic Jimmy Rollins and sure fielding Chase Utley. They will combine to form one of the best keystone tandems around and with David Bell at third Phillie should have few worries.

Behind the dish Mike Lieberthal has had one too many injuries and is a long way from the form that won him a Gold Glove in ‘99. His movement is at times laboured and while he still has the arm strength, his footwork doesn’t allow him to make the most of it. The club will hope that Carlos Ruiz can emerge and take some of the load.


Ryan Howard is a monster at the plate. He has a disciplined approach and when he gets a pitch he likes he takes some of the most vicious cuts you will see. This guy will be one of the leagues top sluggers for years to come.

The middle of the order gets even more formidable when you factor in Burrell and Bobby Abreu, who is one of the very best hitters in baseball. Abreu dons the jewellers eyepiece at the plate and sees more pitches per at bat than anyone. He’ll hit for a high average with good power whilst drawing walks and using good savvy on the bases to rack up the steals. He truly is a complete player.

Once you get past the heart of the order there isn’t a lot of depth. Lieberthal and Bell have good power but don’t make contact enough to be consistent providers and if any of the other starters go down then there is the question of who will pick up the slack? Tomas Perez remains one of the best pinch hitters and utility men around but he isn’t a long term solution.

The key to the line-up will be Jimmy Rollins who has great speed and the hand eye coordination to slap and bunt the ball around and make the most of it. The only problem is a lack of discipline which means he doesn’t walk as often as he could. He does work hard, which is a quality that has made him a true leader, and when he gets on a hot streak the whole team goes with him.

Rookie Watch

Carlos Ruiz will be looking to try and take some playing time away from Lieberthal. Originally a second baseman, the Phillies quickly converted him to a catcher due to his lack of mobility. Now he uses his middle infield footwork and a strong work ethic to make the plays behind the dish and he’s developing across the board.


Few GM’s have the track record of Pat Gillick. A long term GM of the Blue Jays when they were new to the league, he made them into a dominant force in the AL that culminated in the back-to-back championship years of ‘92 and ‘93. He then moved on to Seattle where he built a team that won 116 games in ‘01. He comes to a Phillies team that has underachieved in recent years and doesn’t have many high end prospects anywhere near the Majors and Gillick usually likes to build strong farms so we shall wait and see how soon his effect will take to come into effect.

Charlie Manuel has a reputation for being and easy going guy who works well with veterans and developing hitters which makes you wonder how he fits in with this team right now and its easy to envision him being sacrificed under the new regime. He’s not a bad manager, he’s just in a bad situation.


The pitching depth is a huge worry and the lack of depth at any position and no help from the farm makes it unlikely that the Phillies will trouble anyone in the East unless a lot of things start going right and they haven’t gone right in Philadelphia for a while.

Monday, February 27, 2006

WBC - A good thing for the wrong reasons?

Forget the crazy rules, etc ... it seems that more and more players are continuing to pull out of this tournament, and it really does seem to be turning into a farce!

However ...

... you only learn from your mistakes, so will they learn from this tournament? Firstly i think they have to try hard to change attitudes from the big players - surely it IS a big honour to represent your country. Secondly, i think they have to realise that holding it at this time of the year isnt really clever - too many people wanting to concentrate on spring training, pulling out of the WBC due to knocks received in spring training, etc, etc!

I think they really need to look at the whole organisation and concept of this tournament...it does seem have been riddled with probs from the start, but who knows, if they can learn from the mistakes then maybe the WBC does have a future ... or of course, they might just bin it and give up!! I hope personally that they at least try to persevere!

New York Mets

The Mets finished with a 83-79 record to finish fourth in a tough NL East but they have once again made some big moves to try and get to the post-season.


It awaits to be seen how productive aging veterans Steve Trachsel and Tom Glavine will be this year. Glavine had a typically solid year posting 13 wins and 211 1/3 innings but at age 40 it can’t be long till he calls it a day and starts writing his Hall of Fame speech

People keep wanting to write off Pedro Martinez but he is still one of the leagues best and he can still use that amazing change-up of his to dominate any line-up, any time. He can be flaky but he is more than comfortable being the ace of a staff and that’s what he’ll need to be if the Mets are to contend.

The bullpen was one of the principle reasons that this team failed to maintain a credible playoff push last season and Omar Minaya addressed this in the off-season. Not only did he pick up Chad Bradford who, if fully healthy, is as tough a righty specialist as you will find, but he also acquired an elite closer in Billy Wagner. Wagner might not get into triple digits like he used to but he’s still too much for most to handle.

Jorge Julio adds more right handed depth out of the pen but there’s not much pedigree from the left side with Royce Ring and Juan Perez the only present options.


Paul Lo Duca is a fairly solid all around catcher. He makes the plays he should and while he won’t win a Gold Glove he won’t let you down. His main asset however is his leadership on the field and his ability to handle his pitchers and he is certainly an upgrade over Mike Piazza.

The Mets’ infield is solid average across the board. You feel Kaz Matsui should do more in the field but he is solid enough and David Wright might not have the greatest mobility but he makes the plays he gets to. Of course they are complemented by Jose Reyes who is on the verge of becoming the most prodigious defensive talent in all of baseball. He has that rubber-like quality that Ozzie Smith used to have and not only does he have the great range and the athleticism to get to more than his fair share of balls, but he also is able to get back to his feet quickly and still make plays from deep in the hole.

Even if Lastings Milledge isn’t ready to play every day, between Xavier Nady, Cliff Floyd, Endy Chavez and Victor Diaz there is more than enough solid play to clean up anything that Carlos Beltran can’t get to. While he has been much maligned in New York since his highly publicised arrival, you cannot fault his glove work. He isn’t far off being Andruw Jones out there.


There’s a reason why everyone was surprised by Cliff Floyd’s production last year and that’s because it was a rare year where he avoided spending significant time on the DL. Once again if he stays healthy he will be productive but even if he does get injured newly acquired Carlos Delgado is one of baseballs most consistent and productive hitters. Now he’s away from pitcher friendly Pro Player, expect Delgado to return to his .300, 40 HR, 100 RBI, 100 R form.

Carlos Beltran is a man who was almost expected to be the next Willie Mays when he arrived in New York but a lot of niggling injuries curtailed much of his production at the beginning of last year and he never really had a chance to get going on all cylinders. When he’s healthy there is nothing he can’t do on the field with a disciplined approach at the plate which gets him on base and good pitches to hit and hit hard. There is little doubt in my mind that Carlos Beltran is the best base runner in baseball today, he is always aware of the situation and rarely gives up an out on the base paths.

There is a lot of offensive depth on the roster with David Wright a likely All Star, Paul Lo Duca is very good hitter for a catcher and the likes of Nady, Diaz, Julio Franco (he’ll play till he qualifies for a bus pass) and Jose Valentin providing Willie Randolph plenty of options.

The only issue is at the top of the order where Jose Reyes will need to be more disciplined and cut down on his strikeouts to make the most of his speed and set the table for the sluggers. If he can then this line-up goes from being a good one to an awesome one.

Rookie Watch

The Mets have had many offers of many a quality player but Lastings Milledge is still in New York. He may have a propensity for striking out but has great bat speed which affords him time to stay back on pitches and hit the ball with authority. Add to the package a plus arm and good range in the outfield its easy to see why the Mets were so eager to keep hold of him.


Omar Minaya was a big part of the Expos organisation when they were producing a conveyor belt of All Stars through their farm system and as the GM he even kept the team in contention whilst MLB liquidised them. Now as the GM of a team with money and a desire to succeed he is gradually putting together a strong young team. Some have questioned the way he has handled his draft picks but in his first year he was able to sign the top pitching free agent (Pedro Martinez) and the top free agent hitter (Carlos Beltran) and this year he repeated the feat with Carlos Delgado and its tough to argue with that.

In his first year as a manager, Willie Randolph had an up and down year but it would be easy to put down the inconsistency to the erosion of faith in the bullpen but with a proven closer and a couple of other acquisitions out there, he will need to start putting a winner on the field if he wants keep his job.


There is not the depth in either the rotation or bullpen right now for them to be among the favourites for honours this year but there is enough talent for them to be in the mix.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Florida Marlins

Last year Florida had a 83-79 record and finished third in the NL East. Owing to a salary purge much has changed.


We all know about the almighty salary purge the Marlins undertook this off-season but with the apparent reliance on youth, the spacious Pro Player Stadium should make things easier and more forgiving for their pitchers.

Jason Vargas and Brian Moehler return after posting solid seasons and Vargas in particular will be expected to step up and become the no. 2 behind staff ace Dontrelle Willis and he has the stuff to do it. As for Willis he is as exciting a player to watch as there is in baseball. Few have the same enthusiasm and obvious effervescence and the only thing that might hold him back from contending once again for the Cy is the fact his team is obviously rebuilding and wins might be hard to come by.

The pen could be a problem. Joe Borowski will likely get first dibs at closing but his inability to step back into that role is the main reason he’s no longer a Cub. Nate Bump will be the principle lefty and is a solid performer in middle relief and the club will be hoping Travis Bowyer can step in and shake off the health concerns long enough to harness the potential in his arm.


Miguel Cabrera and Jeremy Hermida are both guys who are working hard to improve their defence but neither are likely to win Gold Gloves any time soon. If Chris Aguila can prove himself worthy of more playing time Cabrera could play third base where he appeared more comfortable but unless he can commit to one position Florida won’t get the most out of his glove.

Another option in left would be Josh Willingham but he is the very definition of an offensive minded player and no matter where he carries his glove onto the field you shouldn’t expect more than a Canseco out there.

Eric Reed will likely step into the vacated centre field position and he has similar speed to Juan Pierre but unlike Pierre, Reed takes good jumps and doesn’t need to endlessly run down his mistakes.

Pokey Reese is as good as it gets at second and playing every day should see him get another Gold Glove for his mantel. Across the keystone will be former Red Sox no.1 prospect Hanley Ramirez who can be lethargic at times but has as much raw talent as you could hope to find. If he’s motivated he could give Florida a dynamic double play partnership…if he’s motivated.

The worst case scenario for Florida would be if Willingham plays catcher. Lets just say he’s not very good there. Miguel Olivo is a solid performer and Matt Treanor is an excellent back up.


Eric Reed will likely be asked to bat lead-off but while he undoubtedly has the speed, many wonder if he has the plate discipline as he has developed a reputation for striking out more than is ideal.

Much is expected of Hermida who has an uncanny eye at the plate with good power (he did hit a grand slam in his first big league at bat) and with him batting lefty ahead of right handed hitter Miguel Cabrera the Marlins will have a good one-two punch. Cabrera continues to amaze as he develops into becoming almost a mini-Pujols.

Potential is the key word here with Willingham looking like he could become an outstanding DH if he moved to the AL, Aguila often looks over matched but has good raw power and Wes Helms and Mike Jacobs both have shown they can go long at the big league level.

Much will be expected of Hanley Ramirez who can hit the ball hard consistently but the questions with him are more in his mentality and approach than with his skills.

Rookie Watch

Scott Olsen and Yusmeiro Petit have long been cited as two of the top pitching prospects in baseball and will be given every opportunity to show what they can do. The Fish are confident that Olsen can shake off the elbow problems that shortened last year but Petit had a very rough time when the Mets moved him to AAA. Not overpowering, Petit relies on location and changing speeds and as a result his margin of error isn’t very high but he didn’t let that stop him absolutely dominating at every level he has ever played in before that.

This whole team is stacked with rookies who could be contributors and maybe even compete for Rookie of the Year honours. Josh Willingham, Hanley Ramirez, Jeremy Hermida and Eric Reed all have plenty of potential but to expect them all to come through at the same time is a bit too much of an ask.


Joe Girardi has been given a lot of work to do but throughout his playing days people had earmarked him as a potential big league manager and you cannot downplay his role as part of those great Yankee teams of the late 90’s. If he’s given the time he could do a good job but then that’s the story with the whole of the Marlins team really.

Larry Beinfest has proven that he can put together a winner and while he was asked to dump a lot of talent in the off-season, he managed to get a lot of blue chip prospects in return and he seems to have a clear idea of how he wants to go about getting Florida back to the top.

Florida have drafted well in recent years and few teams have the track record they do at developing talent through their farm from Edgar Renteria and Mark Kotsay all the way through to Dontrelle Willis, Josh Beckett, Miguel Cabrera and Jeremy Hermida.


As I said before it would be a lot to expect so many young players to realise their full potential all at the same time. While there is undoubted talent in the roster, it is mostly very raw and in need of fine tuning and experience.

Don’t be surprised to see flashes of brilliance from time to time but also don’t be surprised to see over 90 losses this year. I just hope the fans in Florida can stand by their team long enough to see them through this rebuilding process.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Atlanta Braves

Atlanta finished last year with a 90-72 record and won their fourteenth straight division crown (well its actually eleven if you count the strike year but its still impressive).


The rotation has a lot of quality arms battling for places. Between Mike Hampton, John Thomson, Kyle Davies and Horacio Ramirez you have four guys who have proven they can rack up quality innings in the Major Leagues but the real keys lie in the health of Tim Hudson and John Smoltz.

Hudson is as good as they come but missed substantial time last year with one knock after another. If he can stay healthy he will be the ace of the rotation and that’s saying something when you have John Smoltz on your roster. We’re still waiting to see how many more innings Smoltz has left before that elbow finally gives out but until then he is a fierce competitor with one of the best sliders around.

The bullpen doesn’t seem to have been improved upon from last year and last year it wasn’t too great. Chris Reitsma seems favourite to be the closer but he was less than convincing in that role last year. He will be backed up mainly by those that don’t crack the rotation but without Leo Mazzone pulling the strings we shall have to wait and see how things pan out. This will be a concern.


Jeff Francoeur is a quality right fielder with a strong arm and Langerhans isn’t too shabby in left but they don’t need to be that good when they’re out there with Andruw Jones. He is still incredible in centre and you’ll be hard pressed to find better.

The infield will be as good as Edgar Renteria. If he can put his disappointing year in Boston behind him and return to the form that made him a perennial NL All Star then he could prove to be a shrewd acquisition and Chipper Jones lack of quality with the glove won’t be so apparent.

The Braves should turn their fair share of double plays. Adam LaRoche has soft hands at first and Marcus Giles is fearless making the pivot at second. No one hangs in there longer and he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.

Is Brian McCann ready to carry the load? Pitchers seem to enjoy throwing to him but his footwork can let him down. Todd Pratt is a capable reserve but you don’t want to have to rely on him as the primary receiver.


Andruw Jones absolutely carried the line-up last year and many a year he’d have won MVP honours for it. The only question is can he carry it over to this year?

There is plenty of potential elsewhere in the line-up with Renteria being a versatile hitter throughout his non-Boston career, Marcus Giles fits nicely into the second spot and Chipper Jones is still Chipper Jones and should still be a good bet for 30 HR and 100 RBI.

Adam LaRoche is still a little lightweight a hitter for an everyday first baseman as is Ryan Langerhans for a left fielder although he could share time with Kelly Johnson who showed some quality last year at the plate.

Brian McCann has plenty of potential with the bat but we’ll see how he does. The key to the success of the Braves line-up could be Jeff Francoeur who makes consistent hard contact with good pop but as much as he hates to work counts he’ll need to if he’s going to make the most of his talents and stick around in this league. Sometimes he almost seems like to take a walk would be a personal affront to his character.

Who’s batting lead-off? There doesn’t seem to be too many guys who really fit the mould and unless everyone plays to their full potential, The Braves will struggle to score consistently unless someone can fill that role. There’s not much speed here and Furcal has been a key contributor over the years in that role.

Rookie Watch

Joey Devine and Chuck James will both be given a chance to crack the rotation in Spring Training. Devine rocketed through the system in his first pro season and even made it onto Atlanta’s post-season roster but James was as good as any pitcher in the minors last year. He’s a crafty lefty with a knack for pitching but his under whelming stuff and a propensity towards allowing fly balls might make the Majors a tougher challenge for him.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still the class of the system, he’s a strong hitter and leader with solid average defensive skills. He’s still probably a year away but he’s a potential All Star for many years to come.


What can you say about Bobby Cox? He took a team of kids and a line-up decimated by injury into the post-season and won yet another division crown. There aren’t many better at motivating a team and knowing when to push buttons the only question about him is how will he react without his long term confidant Leo Mazzone?

What can you say about John Schuerholtz? Few teams seem to have the turnover of players that Atlanta do but they still keep winning and still keep producing players through the farm. There are few better GM’s better than Mr Schuerholtz and if Atlanta need to make a deal, you know he’ll make a good one.


The thing is that Atlanta have done so well for so long that you can never count them out. Even with the apparent holes in the bullpen and at the top of the order the Braves brain trust always seems to find a way to make what they’ve got work.

In theory they should be a solid team that will finish on the happy side of .500 and they’ve gotta slip up some time but they won the division last year with the majority of these players and now they’re more experienced for it and as a result its still their division to lose.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Blog Update - New pages ... and other stuff!

Just a quick post to let you know of some new blog features that are now available. In the right-hand column, as well as the usual links, archives, etc, you will also see 2 new links:

2006 Previews: Pete J will be posting his season previews on the blog, and this page has just been designed as a handy link so you can check up on your team's review without having to search the archives, and also so you can check up anytime throughout the 2006 season. Just look out for the highlighted teams in the list, and then click on them to go straight to the review - Previews should start appearing within the next few days.

The Predictions: This is where the blog team will stick their necks out and give their season predictions! ... but it isn't all about us - If you fancy dropping in your predictions for the 2006 season, then get in touch via the contact form, select 'give my predictions' from the drop-down menu, and send them in. We shall add them all to our prediction page for 2006! - Predictions should appear on this page in late March.

Also, remember to click on Contact the Blog if you want to get in touch with us for any reason: If you wish to submit an article, volunteer your services, give your predictions, have an idea for the blog, or just wanna say 'hello'. Don't forget also, that you can add the blog to an XML/RSS reader, or click the add to My Yahoo or Google buttons to make it even simpler.

Also meant to add: To return to the main blog page at any time, just click on the header logo!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The WBC - Baseball's Busmans Holiday

Well its been a while since I piped up with something on the WBC and sadly the more information I get the less enthused I am about the whole thing.

The whole tournament was billed as being a big advertisement for baseball around the globe with all the best players coming together to represent their countries in a competition to see who is the best. What we are slowly starting to see is that a lot of the best players are dropping out either with the disappointing but fair excuse of not wanting to push it too far after having serious time off with injuries the previous year e.g. Tim Hudson or Barry Bonds, but there are also the sad peons who just don’t give a rats ass and simply want to focus on their club performances because that’s where the green is e.g. Hideki Matsui.

On top of the diminishing returns in terms of talent involved the tournament organisers have also devised a whole clutch of rules designed to make sure no one tries too hard. Severe pitch counts have been mandated that can only be extended in order to finish an at bat (at least they have used a modicum of common sense there). In the first round pitchers will be limited to 65 pitches and if they have more than 50 they are made ineligible for the next four days. If they exceed the 65 pitches the ‘Game Operations Technical Committee’ will report it to the umpire who will have the ability to order a pitching change!! It’s tough enough that managers have to figure out when to change the pitcher and now the umps are doing it too?

30+ pitches see you suspended for a game (why not call it what it is?) and if you pitch on consecutive days that’s a suspension too.

The limits go up in the later rounds with an 80 pitch limit in round 2 and 95 in the semis and final. Anyone get the idea this whole thing is being skewed to benefit the major leaguers? Why should the Cubans or the Dutch have to worry about how much work their pitchers get? If big leaguers want to protect themselves for the benefit of the signatories of their cheques instead of giving their all to their country then fine but why handicap teams that don’t have the benefit of these superstars?

At least we won’t have long drawn out blowouts (lets face it they are going to happen) with the introduction of a mercy rule which will see games finish early if a team is leading by fifteen after five or 10 after 7 so maybe we might get a complete game shutout from some efficient pitcher but I won’t put any money on it.

On the whole the whole idea of this being a competition is being blown by the wayside as it becomes more and more friendly. How long till it just becomes a curiosity where not even baseball fans are particularly interested let alone an interest being sparked amongst people on the fringes in places where baseball isn’t that fashionable. This good idea is fast becoming undermined and few of the hopes surrounding its inception are looking to be realised.

How about this for an idea more befitting this tourney? We have kegs at the corners and every time you stop at first or third you must drink. We’re not far from that now and it’s either that or we just use normal baseball rules and let the players play until the best team wins by hook or by crook. Would that be so crazy?

Saturday, February 11, 2006

NASN ... channel-bundling or channel bungling?

I'm sure most UK Baseball fans will have been keeping an eye on this one!

NASN have decided to **bundle their package with the other Setanta sports packages on Sky, and this will mean an increase of £3 per month for people who may have only subscribed to NASN for US sports and don't want the other channels which let's face it, are mainly weekend channels, and offer European and Scottish football (i'm a Scottish football fan, but i DONT want the Setanta channels, i think they are poor!!) Whether this is to help fund a new ESPN deal, no one knows, but i do know it ISNT popular!

So is this a big mistake by NASN? Personally i think they might just live to rue this one - when NASN started it was seen as a god-send to a lot of people who didnt want Sky sports, and were very happy to see a channel concentrating purely on US sport, so surely bundling a channel with non-US sports channels will only irk such people. Also, you have to consider that certain people (myself for one) really only subscribe for the one sport - surely people such as that are not going to be happy shelling out another £3 per month just to watch that one sport ... outlets such as MLB.tv will become far more attractive, especially as high speed broadband is so much more common these days. NASN also seem to forget the whole financial aspect of having to raise another £3 per month, especially given the high level of following US sports have amongst students, etc. I'm not really convinced that they have thought this through properly!!

Over a year ago i made a suggestion to NASN that was treated with the usual standard uninterested email reply - i suggested that they should consider offering 'season ticket' packages for people only wishing to sub for one sport: the example would be me wishing to sub for the baseball season. They could charge me a set amount per month, say £10, and i would tied into this contract for the length of the ball season, so NASN would get £70 from me. Surely this is better than trying to tie me in for a whole year at £14 per month, because let's face it, im NOT gonna pay that £168 per year charge when im only interested in Baseball - i'd go to MLB.tv instead! So there you have it - £0 or £70 - which would be best for NASN? You do the maths!!!

It will certainly be interesting times ahead to see how this situation develops. I will be ok for the mo, as i can still sub monthly (and cheaper) on Cable, but i can only see this price increase succeeding for NASN if good old shoulder shrugging British apathy takes over as usual, and people just accept it! I would love to be a fly on the wall if the cancellations start flooding in!

** It should be noted that this only affects Sky customers from what i have heard so far - Cable customers are unaffected by this change ... for now!

Oh Rickey You're So Fine, You're So Fine You Blow Your Mind Hey Rickey

Rickey is back with the Mets.

Having not played in the Bigs since 2003, Rickey Henderson is back as an instructor and Mets GM Omar Minaya is hoping he can take Jose Reyes under his wing and teach him a thing or two but Rickey has no thoughts about retiring and taking his much belated place amongst baseballs greatest in Cooperstown. "I love playing the game, but right now I haven't had the opportunity to go out and play. I feel that I have a lot to give back to the game."

This might not really be the most incredibly sweeping news story but Rickey is always Rickey and nothing about Rickey can ever be boring which is why Rickey can be put into one sentence so many times.

Lets hope he finds a team willing to let him pad out his already staggering records and we can have more great Rickey stories.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Welcome to [insert current name] Ballpark!

I see now that the Giants stadium is now to be known as AT&T park from this season! After a long spell as Pac Bell, and a shorter stint as SBC, it now has yet another name. Whilst corporate mergers are a fact of life i suppose, it does seem like the Giants would be better putting a digital board up over the main entrance, would certainly make it easier to change the name in future!!!

Call me old-fashioned, but im not particularly keen on naming stadiums after products or companies, especially when you see an example like this from the Giants! The fans need a product to associate with, and one helluva big part of that product is their ballpark, something they are proud of - and changing the name every couple of years doesnt make for that same product, nor does it fit in well with the traditional side of baseball - can you imagine Fenway suddenly becoming the Coca Cola stadium!!! I guess it's just part of the ever growing commercialism of sport - ok, we have some of it here in the UK, but football stadium names such as Ibrox, Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge, etc, all still stand out above what Arsenal's new ground, the Emirates Stadium, ever will!

In the end, money talks i guess!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Molina Catching Franchise Opens Canadian Branch

The last of the big free agents has just been signed as the Toronto Blue Jays cap off their busy off-season by picking up Gold Glove catcher Bengie Molina on a one year deal worth $4.5m. The deal lands Toronto arguably the best defensive catcher in the business, a solid bat capable of double digits in homeruns (people forget that catchers don't really hit much) and solidify their team defence up the middle. When combined with incumbent Greg Zaun, Toronto should get plenty of production from the catching position and maybe they can push for a playoff spot...if Glaus stays healthy...and Halladay...and if Russ Adams and Aaron Hill continue to develop...and, well, a lot of 'ifs'.